In January, Obama said that ISIS and the Al Nusta Front weren’t anything to worry about.
Obama compared Al-Qaeda-linked militants in Iraq and Syria to junior varsity basketball players, downplaying their threat as small-league.
New Yorker editor David Remnick pointed out to the president that the Al Qaeda flag is now seen flying in Falluja in Iraq and in certain locations in Syria, and thus the terrorist group has not been “decimated” as Obama had said during his 2012 reelection campaign.
“The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant,” Obama told Remnick. “I think there is a distinction between the capacity and reach of a bin Laden and a network that is actively planning major terrorist plots against the homeland versus jihadists who are engaged in various local power struggles and disputes, often sectarian.”
Obama kept insisting on this fundamental difference between the core Al Qaeda leadership and the franchises who were no threat to the US. (This distinction is common in the anti-war crowd, Rand Paul also used it.)
Airlines with direct flights to the United States have been told to tighten screening of mobile phones and shoes in response to intelligence reports of increased threats from al Qaeda affiliated militant groups, U.S. officials said.
U.S. security agencies fear bombmakers from AQAP and the Islamist Nusra Front, al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, are collaborating on plots to attack U.S. or Europe-bound planes with bombs concealed on foreign fighters carrying Western passports, the officials said.
U.S. officials say the United States has acquired evidence that Nusra and AQAP operatives have tested new bomb designs in Syria, where Nusra is one of the main Islamist groups fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.
Unlike ISIS, to which it has now pledged allegiance, Al-Nusra would seem to be a bit busy, but you never know. And smartphones could be the least of it.
Authorities in Iraq say they have uncovered an al-Qaeda plot to use chemical weapons, as well as to smuggle them to Europe and North America.
Defence ministry spokesman Mohammed al-Askari said five men had been arrested after military intelligence monitored their activities for three months.
Three workshops for manufacturing the chemical agents, including sarin and mustard gas, were uncovered, he added.
Remote-controlled toy planes were also seized at the workshops. Mr Askari said they were to have been used to release the chemical agents over the target from a “safe” distance of 1.5km (1 mile)
That was last year. At that time we weren’t taking ISIS seriously. Now that disdain has backfired badly.